Aside from one session at the end of December, we had two weeks rest from training. It’s good to take this time over Christmas to relax and recuperate with maybe just a little light exercise to stay mobile.
Now is the time to get back into the swing of things! New Year is perfect for starting afresh and this is equally true in karate. So throw your kit into your bag (karate gi or jogging bottoms and a tee) and come along to the next session.
The most difficult step can be the first one through the door. From there, the next step is up to you.
December 2016 was a busy month at Shiranamikai. For the last month of the year, we had a lot to cram in…
Christmas Dinner, 17th December
Enjoyed our traditionally, non-traditional club Christmas dinner, which doubled-up as a leaving party for Kentaro. As well as a chance to say goodbye it was also a good opportunity to get to know the new members of Shiranamikai. Needless to say, we all had a cracking time!
Last Training Before Christmas, 21st December
I was intending to run some games in order to win some sweet prizes during the latter part of the session but actually, exercising beneath those toasty, synthetic Santa hats was deserving enough of a treat. Plus, the three kata requests of Jion, Kanku Dai and Unsu didn’t leave much time for anything else. Thanks to those who brought along mince pies and chocolates for snacking on afterwards!
Keiko Osame, 27th December
The last lesson of the year was a free session, a small gift back to all of you. Coming the day after Boxing Day, the timing was perfect to get moving after several days of sedentaryness. The suggestion was to bring along any leftovers from Christmas so that we could help each other polish them off after training but I nearly ended up leaving with more than I had brought along myself! Never mind :-)
The 27th was also Kentaro’s last club karate session for a while. Kentaro, Hina, Miyuki & Hisaharu, we wish you all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Shiranamikai members enjoyed a lively Sunday afternoon, bouncing around Oxygen freejump centre. Most were straight into the dodgeball arena where, given the energy spent and a feel of my t-shirt, I was sure we spent a good half-hour. In reality it was just ten minutes.
We witnessed some impressive jumps and backflips on the larger trampolines while the pugil sticks provided a challenge for competitive types and entertainment for those watching. The most difficult part here was surpressing the urge to jump over the foam pit when losing (balance)!
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball
Once the hour slot was up (an hour of this was more than enough), we retreated to the cafe to recharge with some much needed refreshments.
Another top training session this month with JKA England’s top instructor, Ohta Sensei.
Basics incorporated reaction exercises that, combined with partner work, connected attacks and defences very quickly. It’s these rapid exercises that help to build essential reaction/fast-twitch muscle.
Everybody grading received a runthrough of their kata and brown belts in particular had a longer class to help polish Bassai Dai. Bassai Dai is a showcase for the 18 months to 3 years training. It contains top to bottom reverse twist, rotational blocks with linear legwork, stationary blocking with downwards compression and rooting energy with flexible upper. One of the reasons we spend so much time on this form is that gradually, it helps the practitioner better understand how opposing parts of their body can work together to develop maximum power, speed and smoothness.
Congratulations to everyone who passed their grading!
Shiranamikai was delighted to welcome Imamura Tomio Sensei 7th Dan, from the JKA Tokyo Sohonbu, to our dojo on 19th September for a special training session.
Imamura Sensei is a regular guest instructor at JKA England’s international courses and brings with him a wealth of experience. Having him visit to teach at class-level was an opportunity too good to miss and with Ohta Sensei on hand too, it was priceless.
For course attendees who had a hankering for more training after the end of the gasshuku or those who found the prospect of 3 hours training of the JKA England course a little demanding, this session was spot-on. It was class instruction in body dynamics for karate. Imamura Sensei took care to break down everything he could, in the time allowed, to aid development. It was nothing short of a masterclass.
Imamura Sensei explained directional energy – how to create it, hold onto it, and redirect it. To demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of projecting and holding energy in front stance, he used Ohta Sensei as model: pushing, pulling, stepping on, and climbing up his body frame!
His kumite exercise was defending against mae geri, oi tsuki by using gedan barai, age uke. First with a step, second with a slide. Counter was slide back in gyaku tsuki. Defending against the front kick is very close so you have to block on the way. The punch then comes in very quickly so you need a fast reaction to escape and block before closing the distance back down for the counter.
We finished up the training with Heian Sandan, Godan and Bassai Dai and, like with the rest of the lesson, he had a close eye on everything we were doing, correcting us as we were counted through each move.
In Sensei’s closing words, he asked that we practise what we covered in class. And of the details that one can habitually forget, Sensei stressed it is important to remember them all.
This was a superb lesson and we are all grateful for Imamura Sensei for taking the time to visit.
This autumn we had visiting instructors Osaka Yoshiharu 8th Dan and Imamura Tomio 7th Dan, both from the Tokyo Sohonbu join JKA England’s Ohta Yoshinobu 7th Dan for our three day seminar.
Osaka Sensei’s Sochin class is always popular, especially with senior grades. It’s his signature kata and one that ensured he collected many international accolades in the 70s and 80s. He demonstrated with his usual humour, captivating those around him and moved with a smoothness, speed and power that belie his 69 years of age. He just seems to move better and better each time we see him.
Imamura Sensei’s approachable demeanour easily draws people in. Being in a relaxed teaching environment makes learning so much easier. He delivered an informative Chinte class that was easy for those unfamiliar with the kata but also provided the appropriate level of feedback for those needing to develop, with hints and tips for improving various parts of technique, timing and rhythm.
Ohta Sensei led a brilliant kihon and kumite session. One might imagine that eventually, they could get used to training under an instructor of such a high caliber but just when you think you might be ready for one of his sessions, he teaches something so inspiring in its creativity that it leaves everybody talking about it afterwards.
Sunday saw the dan grading where Shion from the club achieved his Shodan. His large support team, including Grandma who was on holiday, were all very proud of his achievement (cue lots of photos, hugs and high-fives). Well done!
We were extremely fortunate that, on this occasion, Imamura Sensei was able to spare the time to visit Shiranamikai in Stanmore to teach a special lesson for those hankering after an extra day’s tuition. More on that here…
These courses present an opportunity to learn from the best instructors in the world and train alongside some of the keenest members of the wider JKA community. This year saw another great autumn international course and we look forward to next year’s which will be held in spring and winter!
We had some exciting weather during this, our second, beach gasshuku: warm and sunny on Thursday, mild with light showers Friday (great for keeping cool) and on Saturday, strong winds that whisked up a light sandstorm (apply sun cream in these conditions for a great skin exfoliant).
Beach training sessions are more relaxed than regular classes but provide superb physical benefits: the unsteady sand base causes lost spring and momentum, forcing a greater reliance on the important core muscles to maintain stability and direct ones’ power.
During our four sessions we covered Heian Shodan, Sandan and Yondan, and Kanku Dai. Partner exercises used the katas’ elements of tai sabaki, foot sweeps, joint locks and take-downs.
Between training sessions there was plenty to do away from the water: walking through picturesque Rye town, visiting its shops and tea rooms, appreciating the views from St Mary’s church, Epryes Tower and the old fortifications. Further along the coast, is Dungeness with its nature reserve, narrow gauge railway and old lighthouse. All set against a backdrop of a flat, barren, post-apocolyptic-looking landscape. Striking.
With fifteen of us down there, plus Cocoa and Sensei Sho, eating out together was always going to prove tricky but we all came together on Saturday evening for a delicious home-prepared dinner.
At this year’s summer camp, we looked at body alignment, posture and the mechanics of making smooth transition between positions. Body control is fundamental to making efficient movement in karate.
Monday through to Thursday was a mixture of control exercises, kumite and kata with applications. Each day we also recapped on the previous days’ technical information. Friday, was a kata-only session to revisit our four primary course katas to check everyone could remember the applications in their groups and explain what they were doing. It is important to be able to show an understanding of the meaning behind each movement of a kata. This in turn, contributes to a better impression of the kata when performing. Explaining what you are doing while you are doing it is very difficult!
Our primary katas were Heian Nidan, Heian Godan, Bassai Dai and Gankaku. We also squeezed in Sochin on Friday, before wrapping up the training and taking a leisurely stroll to enjoy a delicious lunch for a proper finish to the week’s training.
To those who attended each day, well done, you receive a certificate for your efforts! Five students got special mention for training in the evening at the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions – every possible Shiranamikai lesson over the five day period.
Put the first week of August in your diary for 2017, beginning Monday 31st July – Friday 4th August. In the meantime, we have beach training to look forward to in just under two weeks time!
Learn authentic Shotokan karate as taught by the Japan Karate Association. Come and join our karate classes in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Swiss Cottage, West Hampstead and Stanmore.